The block will not affect the muscle memory of Indian cricket players, says Team India strength and conditioning coach Nick Webb

In an exclusive chat with Timesofindia.com, Nick Webb indian older man Cricket The Head Strength&conditionteamcoachdiscussedhisapproachtodevelopingfitnessprogramsduringclosing.healsoreflectedontheimpactimposedbythecoronavirusemergencyshutdownishavingandcouldhaveonplayersinthefuture.

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How are you and your family facing the current health crisis?



My family and I live in the Bay of Islands, just north of the North Island. The New Zealand government has been very clear to all citizens about what is required of us to eliminate COVID-19 so we're home I've been traveling a lot for the past three years, so I really enjoy staying home and spending time with my wife and kids while I can.

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howmuchhastheemergencyshutdownaffectedyourplanswithteamindia?

nottoomuch.sincetheconclusionofourlocalseriesagainstsouthafrica,wehadpreparedplansfortheplayersuptoandduringtheipl,thenitwasessentiallyatransfertotheiplfranchisesforthedurationofthetournament.sointermsofplansandworkflow,notmuchhaschanged.theonlymajorimpactfromaperformanceplanningperspectiveisknowingwhenplayerswillplaynext,beitiploraninternationalseriessowecanworkbackwardsfromtheretomakesuretheyhaveenoughbuild-uptomeetphysicaldemandsandminimizetheriskofinjurywewillwaitinthedirectionofthebcciandtheindiangovernment.

haveyoubeenincontactwiththeplayerssincethecrowncrisis?howaretheydealingsofar?

yes,everyweek.betweenmeandthencaconditioningandstrengthstaff,wehaveacollaborativereportingsysteminplacetoensurethatallplayershavesomeformofcontactthroughouttheweek.

ithinkit’samixedbag.some(players)areenjoyingthetimeathomeandspendingitwiththeirfamiliesforanextendedperiod,whichisaluxurythesedays.otherswhoaresocialbutterfliesaremissingtheface-to-faceinteraction.allofthemhaveaconsistentdailyroutinethathelpsduringtheemergencyshutdown.

doyouforeseeanymentalorpsychologicalimpactoftheemergencyshutdownonplayers?alotoftheseplayerstraveltoplayacrossthegloberoughly200-250daysayear.couldtheemergencyshutdowninsomewayaffecttheirmentalabilitiesaswell?anyimpactonmusclememory?

intermsofmentalhealth,ithinkthatwhenyouconfinesomeonetotheirhouse24hoursadaythereisalwaysthepotentialthatmentalhealthisaffected.everyonehasthepotentialtoresponddifferently.therecertainlywillbesomeanxietyaroundthevirusnowandastherestrictionsareslowlyreleased.it’sevenmorecrucialfromamentalhealthpointofviewthatweensuretheplayersareokaythroughoutemergencyshutdown.theyarepeoplefirstandcricketerssecondandtheirhealthisournumberonepriority.

intermsofmusclememory:youwillneverloseaskillthatyouhavemastered.ourplayersareexceptionallyskilledandhavebeendoingtheirskillworkforalongtime,sotheirpatternsandmotorskillswillbeingrained.yes,theywillberustyfromaperformanceperspective,buttheirskillsandmusclememorywillbeingrained.

inyouropinion,howbigahurdlewouldthesocialdistancingrulesbefortheplayersinordertoremainmatch-fit?likesayinboxing,youcanonlyshadowboxuptoapoint.withoutapartner,aboxercan’tworkonhisgame.incricket,youhavebowlingmachinesandnetpractice.willthatbesufficient?

itwillcertainlyhaveaneffectonhoweveryonepreparesinitially.therewillbemedicalinterventionstoensurecleaningandhygieneprotocols.initially,playerswilltrainontheirownasrestrictionsarerelaxed,andastheybecomemorerelaxed,smallgrouptrainingwillbeused.youarealreadyseeingthesemeasuresinaustraliawiththenrl(nationalrugbyleague).

obviously,themoregamesyouplay,yougetarhythmandexperiencetheintensityandpressuresthataredifficulttoreplicateintraining.however,wecancertainlytraininawaythatmatchesthedemandsofthegames.wehaveusedsportssciencetechnologytounderstandthesedemandsandcanguideusonhowwecanimprovethetrainingenvironment.bowlingmachines,sidearms,andthewaynetworktrainingissetupwillallhelpgiveourplayersthebestpossiblechancetogetready.

isthereaspecificroutineyouareworkingontoimproveormaintaintheplayer'sphysicalcondition?accordingtosomereports,thesrilankancoachingstaffhasaskedeachplayerwhatkindofteamtheyhavewiththemathome.thentheyhavesenteachplayeraspecificplanbasedonit.areyouorthebcciworkinginasimilarway?



playershavebeengivenaplantocompletewhileathome,basedontheequipmentandfacilitiesthatareavailabletothem.allhavedifferingaccesstoequipmentsotheseareconsiderationswehavetotakeintoaccount.theobjectiveoftheirplansalsodiffersdependingontheirindividualneeds.ifwecankeeptheirplansasclosetopre-emergencyshutdownplansaswecanthatwouldbeideal.forsomethisisjustnotpossibleduetotheconstraintsofbeinginemergencyshutdown.

eitherway,wehaveplanstoensureasafereturntoplayertrainingandcompetition.wejusthavetowaitforthedirectionofthegovernmentandthebccionhowourcalendarwilllookinthecomingmonthstobeabletoplanbackwardsfromthefirstscheduledgames.

howyouaremanagingtoworkwithplayerswhoare,sayinjuredorreturningfrominjuries.howdifficultistheemergencyshutdownforthem?whatchallengesaretheyfacingandhowareyouandyourteamworkingontheirrecoveryduringthiscrisis?



therecertainlyarechallengeswhenyouareinjuredandyoudon’thavetheluxuryofhavingthespecializedequipmentorpersonnelatthereadywhileinemergencyshutdown.thencaandteammedicalstaffisworkingtogethercollaborativelytoensuretheyarecontrollingwhattheycancontrolintermsofrehabandthereturntotrainingandperformanceprocesswhileinemergencyshutdown.fromastrengthandconditioningperspective,weworkalongsidethephysiotherapisttocomplementtherehabprocessandtargetphysicalqualitiesandareasthatarenotinjuredtoensureweoptimizetrainingadaptation–andofcourseutilizingequipmentthatisavailableathomes.

howcriticaldogymnasticsessionsbecomeinthesecircumstanceswhenyoucan'tplaythesportitself?



youcanlookatitfrommanyavenues.ifgymmingispossiblewiththefacilitiesavailable,it’sarealchancetomakesomephysicalimprovementswhilenotplayingmatches.forsome,thisemergencyshutdownisagoodopportunitytogetmentallyfresh,awayfrominternationalcricketintheshortterm.whilewehadencouragedplayerstospendsomequalitytimewiththeirfamilies,allofthemdoenjoygettingintothegym.

formanyofthemitistheirowntimetohavetheirownspace,tostayinsomeformofroutineandtobefit.takingtheseguystothegymisnotaproblem.

unlikemanyotherteamsports,thenatureofcricket,particularlythedifferentneedsforabatsmanandabowlerarebigchallengesinthemselves.howdoyouuseyourexpertisetodeliverandsatisfythedemandsofbothsetsofskills?



it’saboutunderstandingwhatskillsthey’recurrentlygoodatandhowtheywanttoexpressthemselvesontheparkandhowtheywanttoplaytheirgame.they’vemadeteamindiaforareasonsoit'sabouthowyouharnessthatandensurethatyousetupplansandprogramsthatallowthemtothriveandenhancewhatthey’realreadygoodat.

adaptingeachindividualplanforbowlersandhittersrequiresthatyouunderstandthebiomechanicsofeachtaskandthetechniqueofeachplayer.bowlingrhythmisthemostunnaturalsequenceofmovementsyourbodycangothroughandeachonedoesitdifferently,soineedtounderstandhowtheyexecutetheirability.therearebiomechanicalandmovementcriteriathatilookattoallowmetoevaluateeachbowler; So it's just a matter of prioritizing which moves will have the best transfer to the skill and working alongside the player to ensure they understand and accept the process.

The same goes for hitting: There are biomechanical principles and criteria that are associated with hitting and the power coup, and there are different methods to be effective. Again, it's about aligning the principles and methods with the player and the way he's currently executing his skill.

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This is what you get in return for keeping these men honest and hitting them around the chops when they get lazy with their guard 🥊😝 . All fun and games until @yuzi_chahal23 throws a haymaker punch 🤣 . Good bunch of lads keeping me honest and on my toes too while having a laugh - must always enjoy the process 😎 . #teamindia #bleedblue # Cricket #strengthandconditioning #training #boxing #fitness #team #teamculture #teamfirst

A publication shared by Nick Webb (@ nick.webby) in



How was taking charge of Shankar Basu, who is credited with the great improvement in fitness levels of a series of Indian Cricket ers ? The benchmark was set quite high



First of all, I think it is important to respect and acknowledge the work that Shankar Basu put into the players as he certainly laid an excellent foundation to build on. When I arrived, I wanted to prioritize actively listening to players, asking the right questions, and understanding where they came from. The reasoning behind this was to understand how I can add more value to your physical performance.

Secondly, I do not compare myself to anyone. Rather I just focus on what I can bring to the team and how I can add value to the team. I bring a different set of experiences and approaches to physical training and I’m going to be working hard to build on the foundation set and ensure it's transferred to the way in which the team plays Cricket .

You have previously worked with New Zealand’s women Cricket team and Rugby teams as well. How big an advantage is that? Any things that you bring on board or wish to bring on board from Rugby to Cricket training?



I think having worked in a number of different sports you get to understand how to apply your way of thinking (or how to pivot your thinking), and how you add value and have an impact with different match and athlete demands while operating in very different environments. One of the biggest differences is that there is a tangible association with strength and conditioning and rugby…if you are not strong and powerful then you are going to be run over and hurt by a 100kg plus opponent. Cricket is a skill dominant sport so there has been more of a leaning towards “just doing skills”. We are only seeing very recently, compared to rugby, the association of how strength and conditioning and sports science can really impact how Cricket can be played and to meet the demands of today’s schedules. Players are hitting it further, running faster, bowling faster (or wanting to) and play a lot of matches with only a few days between games. The fitter you are the more effectively you recover and adapt between matches during tours, which do affect skill, and athletic output on the field. If you aren’t able to recover between matches, fatigue accumulates.

Are there any similarities, if any, between the fitness goals of a rugby and a Cricket team?



Nick-embed2Nick-embed2 Rugby is a totally different game with different physical demands. Both Cricket and rugby have “speed” demands, which you can train similarly for. The difference is what visually you’re reacting to. As fielders you react to an angle of the bat and to the ball, in rugby you are reacting to the opponent in front of you and other visual/audio cues while running at speed which require different tasks to be set up at training.

From a fitness perspective; rugby players need to be able to run at decent speed while also making collisions (tackle, ball into contact, get up off the ground) and do this many times in 80 minutes. While Cricket ers must perform intermittent bursts of speed and execute skills in a T20, ODI or a test match, the demands are very different.

Each team has its own fitness goals and standards and is determined by what they value as a team, what will give them the best performance on the field, and what will give them an accurate snapshot of the given physical quality. Fitness standards are set based on position in rugby, as each position has different roles, and players generally have different skinfold and body weight requirements associated with these standards. Individual targets are also issued. In my previous experience (with NZ Cricket), standards are also issued according to player role and individual payer goals. I am looking to update them for the team when the time is right in the future.

How about the idea of ​​playing behind closed doors or in empty stadiums in the future? Is that the short-term path?



In the short term, possibly, but it's always great to play in front of the crowds. Indian fans are exceptional to play in front of. I am sure the players will also testify that they would prefer this. However, this decision will depend on the directives of the BCCI and the government. The health of players, staff and fans must always be taken into account, while appreciating that there is a demand and a need for everyone interested in the game to play games.

How do you see the impact of coronavirus crisis in sports in general, particularly contact sports like rugby and boxing? How would they evolve in the post-crown world?



Similar to the ways I have mentioned earlier. The health of all humans will be a priority and strict health and hygiene protocols will be in place irrespective of the sport. I foresee that there will be stage based criteria and protocols for how to implement and operate sports post COVID-19.

(Photos & Video Courtesy: Nick Webb Instagram & Getty Images)

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